The COVID-19 shutdown has significantly disrupted our lives and shaped the global economic downturn. Amid the turmoil, many businesses are starting to lose their grip under extreme economic stress. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are undeniably the most vulnerable of all. Many have been cast into crisis and forced to shut down with no end in sight.
If you are a small or medium-sized business owner, the light might not be at the end of the tunnel right now. However, in the case of business, opportunity always arises in the face of adversity. Some businesses will not only survive the slump, but they can grow amid this pandemic. Here are six ways to protect your business during this seemingly inopportune time:
1. Know your financial options
The first key is to not act instinctively in a reactionary manner. Before you take actions out of impulsivity, review your options first. Talk to your landlord or lender to see if you can reduce any overhead costs. After that, try to connect with your banks or any business association to apply for emergency funding. You can also find out if the city or state is providing any loan or solution for small and medium-sized businesses.
2. Reduce your business costs
In times like this, businesses need to maintain liquidity and cash flow. That goes hand-in-hand with reducing or cutting business costs that are too heavy for your shoulders. First of all, you need to review and revise your short-term and long-term budgets. Then, remove the big items in your budgets, such as ad buying and operational costs.
3. Maximise the use of e-commerce and digital platforms
It is no surprise that small- and medium-sized businesses have to make the most of limited resources. Luckily, in this digital age, we can easily promote our brands to large numbers of people. If you have an offline business, then shift it into an online business. If you are already in the digital market, then maximise your marketing and advertising efforts through social media. The next step is to reach out to any impactful social media influencers who give free endorsements or promotions during the pandemic. Step up your game by delivering high quality and creative multimedia content to keep your consumers entertained. You can do that by creating free visuals through Canva or Stencil in order to help promote your products. Through word-of-mouth, you can reach out to new consumers and keep your business afloat.
4. Diversify your products
Do your research and make a list of essential products that are currently in high demand. Brainstorm with your team to know how you can create new products that might be beneficial or suitable for consumers. While you can always produce something new out of necessity—such as vitamins or medical kits—you can also diversify your products to suit your consumers’ needs. For example, if you are an F&B owner, you can make frozen food based on your signature meals. That way, your consumers would be more interested in buying your products since it would be more convenient for them to eat while restaurants are closed.
5. Prioritise consumer connection and deliver a better experience
Based on the latest research by Richard Edelman's "Trust Barometer Special Report: Brand Trust and the Coronavirus Pandemic", consumers are more likely to observe how their favourite brands are dealing with the crisis. That means that consumers expect transparent and proactive communication from the brands as well. To do that, you need to prioritise connection overselling. Create a brand image that highlights affection and compassion. Do strategic marketing by showing that your business cares about your consumers’ well-being through key visuals, copy, e-mails, or even gifts. You can also brainstorm with your team to find out a way to help your consumers during the pandemic. If there is anything you can do, offer your help for free or at a favourable price. You can create an online program as well—such as webinars or workshops—to maintain connections with your consumers. In the end, delivering a better experience for your consumers will keep their loyalty and put your business one step ahead of the competitors.
6. Creating strategic partnerships with potential stakeholders
You can find any potential partners or stakeholders to improve your efficiency in delivering your products. You can approach several delivery service providers and partner with them to reach consumers who are self-isolating. You can also partner with any business entity or organization that will provide mutual benefits for both parties. That way, you can not only remove the barriers but also strengthen your business as well.
With these in mind, you need to get on board and take action. With an optimistic mindset, determined effort, and driven approach, your resilience will come to fruition, and your business will weather the storm just fine.